No.1 Sutherland was one of three locomotives delivered from the Gorton Foundry of Beyer, Peacock & Co., for the opening of the railway’s first line connecting Douglas and Peel which opened with due ceremony on 1st July 1873; appropriately enough No.1 headed the first official train with a banner bearing the legend “Douglas & Peel United”. There are three well-known photographs of that momentous day which show the locomotive carrying the banner on two poles fixed to the buffer beam together with floral arrangements in front of the smokebox and around the chimney as well as a selection of banners and flags bedecking the locomotive. It operated initially with the rear cab sheet removed, and one theory for this is that it was to allow for more than just the driver and fireman to travel on the footplate.
It received its first replacement boiler in 1891 with a further one being transferred from sister No.7 Tynwald in 1919 which itself dated from 1903; a further boiler, this time from No.5 Mona dating from 1907 was fitted in 1923 and a final boiler, again from No.7 Tynwald was fitted in 1934 initially dating from 1923 and it is this boiler that the locomotive still carries today. The original water tanks were capable of carrying 320 gallons of water each and were 2' 0" high, later replaced with higher tanks measuring 2’ 6" giving a capacity of 385 gallons. No.1 was part of the active service fleet and was often seen on the less graded north line in common with the other small locomotives.
The locomotive was latterly operated on reduced pressure with a weak boiler and largely confined to station pilot duties in and around Douglas Station, occasionally banking heavier trains. It ran in this guise until 1964 when withdrawn and stored with other out of use locomotives in the commodious carriage shed. In 1967 it was selected to be repainted into the Spring Green livery for display purposes at St. John’s, with the closure of the Peel and Ramsey lines the following year it was similarly displayed in the former goods yard at Douglas Station periodically until it entered the then-new railway museum at Port Erin in 1976, initially in the middle of the floor until a dedicated plinth was made for it. The locomotive would remain here until it was taken into the workshops for a feasibility study in October 1996 ahead of the Steam 125 event. The boiler from No.8 Fenella was put on short-term loan from its owners, the Isle of Man Railways & Tramways Preservation Society, on the agreement that after a period of three years the boiler be returned to No.8 and that locomotive returned to traffic.
The locomotive took centre stage for the Steam 125 events in 1998 and ceremoniously broke through a ribbon to open the event; during the year it also returned to a small section of track on the Peel Station site and memorably operated between Laxey and Fairy Cottage on the electric railway during that summer, outshopped in a variation on the Spring Green colour scheme; in its third and final year of service under the agreement it returned to the post war Indian Red livery which was deemed to be a standard fleet livery at the time. After this summer it was dismantled and remained in this condition until work to cosmetically restore her for the railway’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2023 commenced in 2019; following completion of this work the locomotive was repainted into the Brunswick Green livery with vermilion and black lining largely as she would have appeared in the 1920s and 1930s and entered the museum for display, emerging again to take part in the Year Of Railways events for the anniversary in the summer of 2023. In March 2023 a replica of the Douglas & Peel United banner carried on opening day in 1873 was fitted to the locomotive by the Association to open the season.